Politics

Ian Blackford, the former leader of the SNP in Westminster, has told Sky News he will be standing down at the next election.

Mr Blackford was replaced as leader of the independence-backing party’s Commons delegation at the end of last year by Stephen Flynn.

The outgoing MP said he had been thinking “long and hard” about whether he would stand again, and having decided not to is still looking “forward to playing my part in the continuing campaign for Scottish Independence and supporting our first minister and the SNP as we go forward to the next election and beyond”.

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During his five and a half years leading the SNP in London, he was a firm ally of Nicola Sturgeon, and had been offered the job of business ambassador for the party after losing his position of power.

Despite the turmoil of Ms Sturgeon’s departure and the subsequent issues within the SNP, Mr Blackford said this will still go ahead.

He added that he has been working on a report “mapping Scotland’s industrial future” which will be released in the coming weeks.

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Mr Blackford, 62, was first elected to the House of Commons for the Ross, Skye and Lochaber constituency in 2015, winning the seat from the late Charles Kennedy.

Before entering politics, Mr Blackford worked in the banking sector and currently lives on a croft – or small farm – in his constituency.

During his time as Westminster leader of the SNP, he became known for his long questions at Prime Minister’s Questions, which sometimes drew heckles from MPs around the chamber.

He has been ejected from the House on multiple occasions, once due to his frustration at the way Brexit votes were being conducted, and also because he stated that Boris Johnson had misled the Commons over partygate.

Mr Blackford faced criticism for the way he reacted to one of his MPs sexually harassing a staff member.

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Leaked recordings showed he encouraged SNP MPs to support Patrick Grady following the allegations.

Current SNP Westminster leader Mr Flynn said: “I know Ian will be sorely missed by his constituents and colleagues when he stands down as an MP but I am confident that he will have a key role in continuing the campaign for Scotland to become an independent country.”

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